Husky's 2017 album epitomizes why exactly he is beloved by fans all across the Russian territories and by many in large parts of the world. Not only does he share his intimate thoughts about himself, his image, career, and experiences, but he encapsulates within his lyrical verses the struggle of the average person to find some meaning from among the muck of reality. As a listener, I become much more involved in the contextual meaning of the words when they pertain to a reality in which I have shared or do share, Lil Darkie, a prime example of this pictorial nature. Within his albums and songs, he utilizes his own culture and musical experiences to craft what one could call an 'auditory biography': The stripped depiction of the artist, neither covered by baseless self-aggrandizement nor empty representations of familiar hip-hop 'norms.' This quality of producing biographical auditory poetry is what initially drew me to Husky. He, Dmitry Kuznetsov, the real person behind the title, chooses to present himself as himself, his lyrics and music highlighting the painful and seductive world of Russian life, drug use, and all. As a Westerner who has lived in America my whole life, other than being adopted from Kaliningrad, I can only relate to the meaning of Husky's text from an outside perspective. However, because of Husky's brilliance, the poignancy of his texts are relevant no matter where you are, what societal position you find yourself involved in, or governmental system your country or territory operates by.
This last part is particularly important when observing the album, "Favorite Songs for Imaginary People." The title itself indicates that this album's premise is not rooted in reality, nor is it highlighting some earthly picture. The 'imaginary' aspects actively contradict the entire album's content, mainly situated between two modes: situational storytelling and biographical reality. The 'imaginary people' phenomenon exerts its presence within Songs #3, 11, 12, and 13. In Song 3, Husky depicts a factious person's miserable existence in the confines of a 'paneled' world, an allusion to a comic strip and its borders. Song 11 is an oddity in this album, although the reality of the imagined circumstances correlates well into the theme. A dog, the main character, is infatuated with his owner, a woman called 'the mistress' who, through the lines "where are your odors stick to the hands of fools," we come to find out is seeing a man. This revelation is the premise of the song, highlighting the dog's unshakable fidelity towards this woman who understands the dog's love as less than. In Song 12, another factious scenario is set-up, but it resembles reality to an eerie extent. The title of this song, "Детка-Голливуд' / Baby Hollywood, tells the story a young girl who has come to Hollywood to make her name; a tale told innumerable by many others. Husky doesn't tell us her fate, but one can imagine where and how she ends up, judging by the overall sentiment of the wording and aesthetic. The last song in the album, "Мультики," / Cartoons, might be the most brazen example of the purpose of this entire album. Husky battles between the career that he has and the dreaded feeling of escaping from reality, from this human-made 'cartoon' life. Through alcohol and drug use, he can put on a blindfold, which temporarily, 'until tomorrow,' draws him away from the destitute poverty of Russia and the routine unhappiness of useless work. The song I find most captivating, not only because of its driving beat and memorable chorus but because of the tangibility of its subject matter, is Song #2, "Бит шатает голову" / Beat shakes the head. The overall aesthetic of this song is raw, unfiltered Husky. The 'electronicism' that plagues much of Russian rap is not there, but what is presented is so much better.
Musically featured are two components: a treble, 'radio like' melody, and a driving, bass emphasized beat. These two aspects don't change within the 4-minute song's confines, but the way that Husky creates form is by changing the meter in which his verses operate, most notably during the 'Golden Ratio' moment of his rap. This moment happens at the 2 minutes 30 seconds moment and is different than his other warping of the meter in his 2nd verse. Husky breaks away from the long-lined aesthetic used in the previous verses and uses a broken-up approach aided by supplementary 'squawks.' This doesn't last the entire verse, and he quickly reverts to the lyrical approach. But with the addition of the restated lyrical sense is a call and response addition, which I very much enjoyed while listening. It makes one feel less alone as if some other party is participating in your communion with this rapper's music. If I have to mention something typical he does, it cannot be without the pre-mentioned warning that producing a rap without this component is impossible. He uses the standard 4/4 time signature, but that isn't bad nor unnecessary. 4/4 is the best time signature for pop, 'jamming out' music, and easy listening. The mind can amalgamate with the music much easier without a feeling of 'dance' or excessive intricacy like 3/4 or any other variant of common time/cut time. He uses an Andante tempo, although a bit more weighted and offset by the strong bass syncopation.
Let's get into the text!
The chorus is quite simple, Husky only uses two lines, and at first glance, they seem to have no direct correlation. "Beat shakes my head, and I pray in front of the faded icon of the Lord." This is one example of Husky's use of biblical references in rap verses. Another is found in his 2018 scrapped album, "Gospel of a Dog," whose name is already an allusion to the biblical form of a gospel. The song "Judas," previously discussed in a blog-post, centers around the biblical figure of Judas, and in the song, Husky venerates Judas as if a Saint, the bringer of reality and pain. These first two lines indicate Husky's mentality towards religion and the aggressive stance it holds on society in Russia. By pairing such a central part of typical religious practice with such a sensory experience, Husky reinvents what it means to devote oneself to spiritual worship. When one venerates an icon, one typically recites a prayer in all earnest. Still, by pairing the reverberations of a beat with the praying action, it's as if one is venerating the beat for deliverance from itself. Commentary provided by users on Genius have pointed out the poignancy of the word 'faded' in describing the icon that is being honored. Indeed, this word provides subtext to the entire song, the waning of faith is akin to the waning of morals, realism, and/or belief in God. Perhaps Husky is alluding to the power of rappers like Timati, who actively try and convince their audiences that 'everything is fine,' and in the process become 'pseudo-venerated' figures.
Verse 1 depicts his dealings with the very masses who refuse to wake up. The very first line, "the beat shakes the monkey head," is both an allusion to his dance style when in music videos and the head of the less-than-intelligent audience who simply see Husky as a nuisance and deluded artist. The next line, "I felt around for an ear, I explain there," explains the point above. His messages within his raps are for all to hear, given that they are willing to listen to him and his music. He indiscriminately 'feels' around for any ear willing to give him and his music a chance. The next line is more symbolically charged than what has come before it, "That vodka already just at the point across Adam's apple, and like a cord, her stomach pushes forth." As one can assume, he is not talking directly about vodka, nor is he talking about the drinking of vodka nor the messy aftermath of excessive drinking. What is being alluded to is the minds rejection of a constant stream of falsehoods, lies, propaganda, and societal 'trash.' It has reached the fever pitch and can no longer be contained within the host's mind, therefore the 'stomach' contracts, purging all of its contents. The next line continues the narrative of the mind's purge, "but I spatted and chattered something obscene." Transferring to the first person, Husky becomes the sick being and now depleted, all that can be said is something obscene, as if this is his only option.
The next following line continues a narrative of maternal care of Husky's music, and according to certain Genius commentators may signal within Husky's family structure a lack of motherly love. However, I cannot reasonably substantiate that. "Pretend to be my mom and take me away, I'll be your son, waving from all windows." In this line, Husky turns his music into a living, breathing person, thus making the contextual meaning a bit more palatable. He wants the listener to take his music, his truth, and 'adopt it' into their life, thus becoming the protector of a small portion of his being. The window part, in the end, could be interpreted as the result of becoming a listener of Husky's music. He now has assimilated himself into your consciousness, thereby 'waving' from every window, and making his presence known at any given chance. The last line of Verse 1, "Bored, you'll see me only if you can get commission," is a painful example of modern music culture, seemingly both in Russia and here in America. When someone becomes disenchanted with music, whether it be after numerous sessions of listening or something else, one can easily discard whatever they have previously heard for a new song, album, musical commodity. This is perhaps what he is referencing, the quick and easy way one can erase the impact of Husky's music by merely changing the channel, track, etc. Only by the possibility of gaining something perceivably 'better' will someone discard the item that they have.
Verse 2's subject matter is rooted in Husky's biographical aesthetic stronger than Verse 1, as the opening line references perhaps Husky's literal defiance of police rule and social censorship, "Beat shakes the head, and I am on top of a bat (club)." He's taking power back into his own hands. In the next line, we start to see the real Husky, no disguises of any kind are pulled over on the listener. "And my Russian poetry on the porch at Kent," is a wonderful line due to the possible reference at the end of the line. Kent, if I am not mistaken in my interpretation, is referencing the county in Southeastern England. Thus, by calling his music 'poetry,' he is not only pointing out the systematic focus on lyricism within his music but also going back to his roots of a rural, humble origin as Kent is a quaint and peaceful county, known for its White Cliffs of Dover, among other beautiful geographical features. The next line, "Where I looked in all the eyes, but I only saw one," is a stark moment of realization, both for Husky and for the listener. This is a powerful line because here Husky has found himself in one aspect and found reality in another, although these two lines of thought are not separated by much. When he metaphorically 'looked' round, all he said was one direction, one view, and that view was the harsh truth of reality. That is what sets him apart from other rappers, his sheer determination to speak and rap the truth and nothing but the truth.
The next line, "Infinite ghetto's in endless windows, oh," continues the biographical depiction of his realizational journey. Genius commentators have pointed out the relevancy of the window's literary motif that rears its head once again in this line. This time, instead of being a symbol of Husky's music being forever with the listener, it is used here as a metaphor to showcase Husky's powerlessness and his only choice but to observe the ghetto's found around the world. The constant turmoil of the entire globe is only able to be seen and commented on by Husky, and despite Husky's efforts, he is unable to fix everything or anything. Concerning Russia, this concept of endless poverty is all too real, as much of Russia is poor and especially where he came from, in Ulan-Ude. Husky showcases his knowledge of Russian music with his reference to the band, "Nautilus Pompilius," a famous 90s band accredited with the promotion of the 'Ural Rock' style. Their musical content is said to be 'depressing' and 'incomprehensible,' therefore in the line, "In the distance, Nautilus plays the smoke," what could be construed is the blurring of reality with an overall sense of dread, terror, and sadness.
The very next line picks up on this idea, "Shmonay my head, how did you learn there is only fear and shame-." I was confused about the first word, and I initially thought it was a made-up word until I stumbled upon the music group "Воровайки," and their song "Шмон." Although I cannot definitively say if this was what Husky had in mind, I cannot contemplate any other idea that I would be able to find, but perhaps the word is Russian slang? The song's content pertains to a vulgar description of a man's viewing of a women's body. The oddity is that this is a group created by women, so perhaps Husky uses the reference to signal the mind's corruption of sexual misdeeds? The second part of this line is quite sorrowful but expected. As we approach the 'Golden Ratio' of the song, the tension within Husky starts to build, and now we are confronted with the real message of this song, "Life is pain." In Husky's eyes, the reality that one cannot escape fear or shame is now setting in, both within the subconscious and the conscious thoughts. The punctuation used here helps to make the point clearer, it's not a question but rather a statement, seen by the use of the word 'как' / How.
One final line in Verse 2, "None of the less, do you hear the little peoples and their enormous verses?" This is the global question, the question escapes borders of time, place, manner, situation, or any other worldly barrier. Can you hear the people of a nation and their stories, their messages so desperately clung on to and so fervently in need of sharing? The people, who are told to shut up, go home, or sit down? Husky is the voice of the people, whether you like it or not. He sees the Russian people as small but mighty, capable of incredible things if they would only wake up enough to realize that everyone else feels the same way. If anyone is to read into the lyrics created by Husky in this song, this question is the most important aspect one must grasp. Despite your size or station in life, if you have a clear message, profound in meaning, and embedded into your very being, all you must do is search for someone who will listen and be honest. Honesty seems to be a big part of Husky's musical identity, whether it is true or not is up for debate. But as someone who is new to the Russian rap sphere, what is evident is that Husky cares deeply about the people who listens to his music, and he creates not from a businessman position, but from the people's position. It's not about what is commercially successful, but what can convey his true feelings, the truth. The rest be damned.
We have now arrived at the 'Golden Ratio' verse. In this Verse, Husky proceeds to wrap up the loose ends of the biographical narrative he is creating, thus depicting his death. This concept of foretelling his death is not an uncommon trope, as he has held a fake funeral for himself and used the concepts of death and destruction before in his music. Along with the conclusionary sentiments, the flow of the rap changes as well, Husky uses extraneous sounds and a call and response format, which I quite like. In the first line, "Winter prevails, we die when the cigarettes are dead," Husky references his homeland of Ulan-Ude and the brutal winters in one sense. The metaphorical winter that freezes the mind and stops all factious imaginings. A commentator on Genius had pointed on the cigarettes as Husky's way of escape, alongside alcohol and drug use. Notice the article we, not I. This we could mean a plethora of things, the relationship with his friends and entourage, his relationship with his listeners, or perhaps strangers. The following line starts the rapid dissolution of any progress made towards sobriety of any kind. "Gypsy guessed me with two glasses of cognac," here the gypsy fortune-teller is foreseeing Husky's future. Instead of 2 marriages, which is bad luck, the marriages are replaced with two glasses of cognac, signifying his relationship with alcohol. It is neither a healthy nor reciprocal relationship, Husky puts in much more than he gets out and by keeping with his excessive drinking, the outcome almost tells itself, as we shall see.
The following line continues the dreaded finale of Husky's biography, "and how we lived, anyhow, so we lie down somehow." One cannot help but feel remorseful for the life that Husky is living within the context of this song. He is given a bad hand and must see it to its logical conclusion, no matter where that conclusion lands him. However, at no point does he rebel against his decided fate, which is highlighted in reality, in his actions, and his constant action despite the Russian government's constant arm stopping him from merely being free. In this line, he reminisces about the way he lived, although at this point, he is not physically dead yet, but the will to go on has all but ceased within him. Again, he uses the article 'we,' suggesting that he is conglomerating both him and an unknown other into his identity and eventual fate. In the next line, "where winter rages, looting," he takes us again to his birthplace, far Eastern Siberia, where the dry winters reach extreme lows, the record low being -65.9 Fahrenheit! The winter loots the day, Husky's time, the sun, and his hope and energy. Now intoxicated completely, Husky cannot make the trek home, "my black bed, my stale earth." Again, Husky is a master at symbolism and pictorial images that convey an environment, not just a momentary glance at the world inside of his mind. Imagine a landscape of bleakness, of harsh winds and cold ground. It is dark; he is by himself, and suffering from unbearable pain, one doesn't wish this on their most hated enemy.
In this last line, all is rectified and explained, albeit in a cryptic and Husky-esque way, but none of the less his message is clear, "If I perish, how I lived foolishly and stupidly. The Taiga sprouts on the ruins of this club." He regrets or perhaps relishes, the flaws and the mistakes made in his life that ended getting him to where he is now, and through this death of old Husky, he can grow again on-top of the ruins that were once his old identity. Although his self-removal from a public spotlight would not be for another three years, the way that these last two lines are phrased perhaps suggests his future intentions. I especially loved the reference to the Taiga. This sizable Northern hemisphere boreal forest spans from Alaska, across Canada, and goes all the way to Russia's far East. Perhaps he uses the forest sprouting on top of the ruins of a once vibrate club to signal re-birth, both physically and mentally, in the mind of Husky and the growth of Mother Nature. Husky is human, after all, despite all of his flaws. The club is Husky's second home, and it is here where he voices himself, his truth, and his life to those who are willing to listen. Thus, it is here where the second birth of Mother Nature can restore his crumbled life, piece it back together, and help him continue his journey. From death sprouts life, and without death, there is no life. One cannot happen without the other.
In April of 2020, Husky released an album called, "4PMP," an allusion to some concept, although lost on me but hinted at in his comments on VK, "Попробуйте расшифровать эту аббревиатуру (у вас всё равно ничего не выйдет)" / Try to decrypt this abbreviation, you still won't succeed. This album has four tracks, including another re-working of his first, publicly released rap, "October 7th." The four songs' subject matter can be collectively referred to as 'situationally' topical, a trend among all of his music. Nevertheless, here, due to this being his last released music of 2020, it feels as if this was a final punctuation to his output. I hope this is not the case at all, but if it is, what a way to go. On Instagram, his account @papinomoloko has not posted since March of this year, perhaps due to COVID, but also perhaps due to the final chapter of his rapping career now, apparently, 'finished.' I say this because, in his last post, he writes, "once a successful rapper, and now just a man." Obviously, as a fan, I truly hope he reemerges after COVID, a newly-born rapper, full of the vitality that he once had back in 2015, but if one must be realistic, I cannot see this being the case, 2-term Putin now being a painful truth. Whatever happens in the fall will ultimately be up to Husky and his team to decide. However, just so he knows, he has a loyal and dedicated fan base, not only in Russia but globally, despite his music not showing up on Top 200 Charts or YouTube Playlists. HUSKY FOR LIFE! #noeternalPutin